Most of them have suggested the politically correct “domestic executive”, which is fine, but still smacks of aprons, mops and cooking pots.
Many people refer to their housekeepers as “domestics”, which I find rather demeaning. Calling a woman a domestic executive seems to imply simply telling a charlady what to do.
Yvonne Dyssel come up with what I believe is a far more fitting name. She says the woman in charge of a home should be called a “family custodian”. The job entails so much more than housework, she says. A family custodian is responsible for the health, safety and well-being of the family.
She (or it might be he) has to feed, clothe, educate, guide and protect every member of the family. The family custodian is responsible for turning children into useful members of society, which is much more difficult than simply feeding and clothing them.
They need to be taught that the world has evil people in it, who need to be avoided. The world is full of dangerous temptations that should be recognised and resisted. Kids won’t learn about drugs and crime simply by being fed and clothed. They need loving guidance. They need to be told why some things are good and others are bad.
The breadwinner needs to be shown constantly that his (or her) efforts are appreciated and that “home” is a warm and welcoming place, worth coming back to at the end of a hard day’s work.
Being a family custodian may sometimes seem a thankless profession, but it’s one of the most important jobs in the world. Society consists of a complicated network of people who need to work together, protect each other and treat each other with respect.
This places a big burden on each of us. Each of us is a brick in the fabric of society. It is up to the family custodians of the world to ensure that the bricks are strong enough to support the structure. You can’t expect a housewife to do that. It takes a family custodian.
Pete Hughes chuckled when he read my comments on the increasing number of yellow cars on the roads these days. Back in the turbulent days of the 1950s, he said, a survey was done to find the most popular - and the most disliked - colour in the world.
Yellow emerged as clearly the most hated colour worldwide. Pete recalls that all police vehicles were painted yellow, from patrol vans to helicopters, and rioting students certainly regarded them as being symbols of the hated apartheid government.
The telephone rang at the fire station and a breathless voice shouted: “You guys must come quickly. My house is on fire!”
“Just remain calm, sir,” said the duty fireman, “and tell us how to get to your house.”
There was a long pause on the line and then the voice said: “Don’t you guys still have that red lorry of yours?”
* "Tavern of the Seas" is a daily column written in the Cape Argus by David Biggs. Biggs can be contacted at [email protected]
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.